UPDATE (10/13/15, 6:10 p.m. ET): According to the O.C. Register, the visit from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis "will go on as planned."
The principal, Deni Christensen, said in a statement: “After careful consideration of varying viewpoints on all sides of the issue surrounding a possible visit by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, it is my hope that we have developed a plan that will meet the needs of our diverse students. In recognition of our students‘ efforts in winning this contest, and a desire to provide students the option of hearing a presentation regarding the music industry, the importance of music education and the arts, along with a Q & A session with the two artists, we will be holding this event after school hours in December.”
Read the original story below.
In July, I had the opportunity to get a firsthand glimpse of Macklemore's daily life.
He welcomed me into his Seattle home, where he lives with his wife and newborn daughter; he brought me into the studio, where I got a preview of some new music; and he allowed me to join him at his recovery program. That experience, and the conversations we had over the course of those days, made something that's apparent in his music even more clear: He's wholly dedicated to his sobriety and being a positive role model. (There's a reason he's been so public about his journey.)
This is part of what makes Aliso Niguel High School's decision to not allow Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to come speak at the school, despite its students winning a contest put on by the tutoring website Chegg, a bit puzzling. The school inexplicably argues that the duo's music “promote[s] drug use and misogyny.”
If anything, Macklemore writes anti-drug ballads, rather than those that celebrate drug use. Over five years ago, long before he was a known name worldwide, on "Otherside," he recounted a battle with addiction and the ways drugs have hurt not just him, but those he loved. Years later, in 2012, he recounted the pain that relapsing caused him and those he loved on "Starting Over."
“I have to put the [12-step recovery] program before everything, because everything else depends on it,” he told me over the summer. “So if I put music before it, if I put my family before it, if I put anything before it, then I will lose those things.”
He added: “I’m just one of millions of people in this country that has this disease, and I can either be honest about it, or I can push it under the rug and be like, ‘I’m fine, I’m cool.' But I find that when I say, ‘I’m fine, I’m cool,’ I’m usually not. And if there’s anybody that can relate to this, to me, that’s what this is about."
If that's promoting drug use, then I'm not sure what championing sobriety looks like.
Calling his lyrical content misogynistic or drug-fueled is reaching. Whether in playful songs like "Thrift Shop" and "Downtown," or more serious fare like the equality anthem "Same Love" and the hard work-underscoring "Ten Thousand Hours," Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis' message remains overwhelmingly positive.
Withholding the opportunity for students to ask Mack and Ryan questions -- questions about their creative process, about perseverance, about writer's block, about possibility, about anything, really -- is also thievery.
But those aren't the greatest injustices here.
In addition to winning a visit from Mack and Ryan, the school also earned a $10,000 grant for the music department. Turning that money down will only hurt students.
Funding for arts programs across the country has been in danger, and shrinking, in recent years. Many schools rely on private donations and opportunities like those that this grant would allow.
I don't know the specifics of ANHS's music program funding. I do know that commenters on the petition to have the duo visit the school have made claims there aren't enough instruments at the school, that the program could have used "some desperately needed funding," and that, "our music program needs the money."
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' music shouldn't be demonized nor should parents and administrators compromise potential funding for their children's musical education. It's time for Aliso Niguel H.S. to reconsider.
MTV News reached out to Aliso Niguel High School for comment but had not heard back at press time.